You know what I admire about Christmas? It’s so punctual! Every year, it comes on the same day. It never misses, it’s never late, it never comes early. You tell yourself, “I wonder if Christmas will be on time this year”? And boom, December 25th, there it is. Like clockwork. It’s almost like it’s German or something.
And you think, “aw man, I wish I’d bought my presents in, like, May.” I know because that person is me (I’m also German, so I know a thing or two about punctuality!). Every year, I plan to be really efficient with my Christmas shopping and start it early, and then I don’t, and then I end up rushed for time. (I shouldn’t have mentioned I’m German. I’m such a bad example).
So this year, I decided to make one thing about Christmas shopping easier for us. And let’s be honest, it’s a really important one. It’s about the gifts us men get our girlfriends – and what they say about our relationships. A hint: break-up bears are pretty clear, but a bad idea. Avoid them especially on Christmas.
What does your gift say about your relationship? And what’s the best one to give her? Let’s have a look-see. You’ll realize you don’t need party bands or wedding music bands to make her happy!
Two Words First.
Do you feel big gifts – like the ones you give for Valentine’s, birthday or, you know, Christmas – carry a heavy burden of significance for your relationship? If you do, that makes two of us. There’s no denying: what you get your partner speaks to both you and her on a subtle level, saying more about your relationship than either of you may have bargained for.
But when Jenna Goudreau writes on Forbes, “whether you’re in a new relationship or committed partnership, the exchange of holiday gifts is like a relationship pop quiz,” I’m hitting the chill-out brake. Look, my friend, there’s no need to drive yourself crazy over it.
If you convert the amount of freak-out you invest in “just the right” gift into true quality time, connection and understanding with your partner, you’re on a much better path.
I believe you want to select something personal, beautiful and meaningful for your loved one, but you want to do it with a sense of joy, humor and happiness. You’re not going to be perfect. But you can show you know and understand here.
And what’s even more important, you want to present it like that. We’ll talk about that a little more later, ok? Now, let’s check out the options and tacit messages.
Whom is the Present About?
The only right answer here is, you two.
What you get your partner speaks to both you and her on a subtle level, saying more about your relationship.
If you give her basketball season tickets and she is really not into basketball, but what a coincidence: you are, then that present will backfire. Even though the tickets are for both of you, the present is really about you, not her or you two.
If you give her basketball season tickets because you know she loves it and, before you knew her, you didn’t know the first thing about basketball, the present will backfire, too. Why? Because it signals you’ll do whatever it takes to please her, even if it couldn’t be further from who you are.
The sweet spot is where it touches either her life or both of yours in a way that brings you guys closer together.
Avoid Dust Collectors.
Don’t buy your girlfriend something she’ll look at once and then put into her shelf so it can collect dust for the rest of its life. We all own too much junk already, it’s the affliction of modern society. Adding more to it, even if it’s somehow in line with what we’re into, just clutters our lives up more.
Your gift should be something she can either use, experience once and convert into an amazing memory, or experience over and over again.
The Useful Present.
I don’t know about you, but I find the idea of mittens really cute. If her mittens are worn-out or, who knows, she just doesn’t own a nice pair of them: they aren’t only useful, but also show that you care about keeping her warm. In my experience, women tend to get cold easier than men (that’s why it’s so attractive when we give them our coat), and mittens show you know that. She can wear them whenever she goes out into the cold and when they warm her fingers, she will be reminded of how she warms your heart.
Because that’s what you told her when you gave them to her.
Am I right?
Another idea is perfume – if you know a thing or two about fragrance! Speak to a few perfume salesmen and see if they can suggest a brand to you that reflects the way you see your girlfriend, and how she makes you feel.
The One-Time Experience.
Right off the bat, a word about candles: they’re a one-time experience, all right. Because she will shove them up your nose and you only want to experience that once. So, unless she is somehow really into them (you know, because she’s a vampire or something), please avoid those waxy presents. They say, “I know nothing about you.” (Or, “I think you’re a vampire.”)
Here’s a great one-time experience instead:
How about a vacation? This one’s definitely for advanced relationships – or, if you want to take yours to the next level. Not only does it show you trust and value your partner enough to want to spend exclusive time with her making memories. It also allows you two to get away from the everyday grind and have a change of scenery! You’ll replenish your energy and may discover parts of yourself and your partner you never knew existed.
Here’s another one that requires less investment and signals less commitment… But it’s oooooohhhh soooooo gooood.
Every city has a spa. You know, the big, all-inclusive ones offering all the massages, saunas and whirlpools your stressed-out heart desires. Wellness is bliss, as far as I’m concerned. And I’m sure you agree. Also, this gift doesn’t send quite the same aggressive “let’s go to the next level” message as the vacation – while still bringing you guys closer together.
The Over-and-Over-Again Experience.
Hey, we all know the number one. Do I need to say it? Of course, it’s jewelry. If you can find a necklace, bracelet, ankle chain or ring that spells humble elegance and fits her personal style, you’re almost certain to please her.
I think it works at any point in a relationship. You’re giving your partner a personal piece of you that she can carry with her, just like you are carrying her in your heart (it’s cool with me if you use that line on her). I’d just advise you to avoid the big, fat, chunky, bloated stuff. Like I said above, you want a humble statement of elegance.
Don’t overstretch your budget, either. Spending a ridiculous amount can backfire in all kinds of ways.
- She might think you’re trying to buy her affection.
- It might show you cared more about the impressive price tag than actually investing time and thought. But time and thought are infinitely more valuable that what’s on your bank account.
- Spend time with jewelers and get advice from them. They can help you tailor the item to your girlfriend’s personality. Again, invest time in this rather than money.
- Doing financial damage to yourself can make both you and her unhappy in the long run.
Also, careful with rings, all right? I heard somewhere that they have something to do with this thing called “getting married”. So yeah. Not sure if you wanna send that message… But then again, if you do, I don’t think some dude giving advice in a Christmas gift article is the right person to listen to.
What about things you can enjoy together, over and over again? For instance, cooking and baking are two activities you can share (and being a guy that likes both gives you a big leg up in terms of attractiveness). If you know she’s into those activities, you can get a book of recipes for cooking together!
If you’re into pop culture (who isn’t), I’m sure you have some TV shows, movies or music you both enjoy. Here are a few examples off the top of my head:
- Breaking Bad ended this year. One of the most beloved shows in TV, the DVD and Blu Ray sets are a great way to relive the show’s tension, suspense and drama.
- Doctor Who is 50 years old now! Want to catch up on the magic? Lots of DVDs and Blu Ray sets available out there.
- This year’s Before Midnight is the latest installment in Richard Linklater’s brilliant romantic film series, now comprising “Before Sunrise” (1995), “Before Sunset” (2004) and the latest. These are great films to remind us what true love is about. Blu Ray’s available, what are you waiting for?
- “The Heat” was this year’s big summer comedy, featuring two strong, tough and cool female leads. That alone is a selling point for a guy that wants to show he can look past the “male action hero” stereotype. Plus, the movie’s hilarious.
- Muse just released a new live CD/video set called, “Live at Rome Olympic Stadium“. These guys are mainstays in many a female’s playlist… Is your girlfriend into them? Give her a taste of the band she love… Live and personal.
- Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” was a big hit this year… And the accompanying album “Random Access Memories” is a multifaceted, but very chilled-out electronic ride. Great for dinners together, but also works at house parties!
That said, of course it’s tough for me to suggest just the right film, album or TV show for your girlfriend… I don’t know her – you do. So the above can only be inspirations. I mean, hey, she might even like video games, right? You could sit down with her for a night in, strolling through the poetic and soulful indie masterpiece Gone Home, and I guarantee you’ll have a fantastic time.
You need to make that decision yourself, ultimately.
But when you do, remember this: you want to find something she’s really into. Something that speaks to her soul, and that she’ll like to come back to in the future. Something that makes her feel good any time she puts it on: it will be an emotion you brought to her life when you gave her that gift.
And when you sat down afterwards and enjoyed it with her.
Just you two.
Remember what I said above about humor, joy and happiness? The big evening has come. She’s going to unwrap your present. You’ve put in the hard work to get her the one that you hope will convey the right message… Not too blatantly, not too weakly.
Do you get nervous and giddy, heart racing and legs shaking? Do you fiddle around, babble and giggle?
Do you get all ceremonious and serious because of the gravitas and significance of the occasion?
If it’s the first one, I think you’ll make her uncomfortable.
If it’s the second one, I think you’ll make her very uncomfortable.
Instead, present it in a cool, relaxed, laid-back way. Be nonchalant and fun. Breathe. Be present.
You could do a fun routine… Put your hands behind your back and tell her, “hey, I have a present for you. It’s in one of my hands. Guess which one it is!” Whatever she says, pretend you’re switching your hands around behind your back and then show her an empty hand. “Sorry! Thanks for playing.” Blow her a raspberry, then give her the present.
What’s the best present you have landed in the past? Did you ever bomb completely? Tell us in the comments!